Didn't he do well
Plugging this all together, and powering it up off our standard test PSU a XFX 850w model, we were pleasantly surprised to read idle consumption of 22W and a game load of 36W. At this point we cracked out our Pico PSU and re-ran the system. Impressively, idle power consumption dropped to 15W an improvement of 32 per cent, while load dropped from 36W to 25W again an improvement of 31 per cent.
Article continues below
There was chatter that lower-power PSUs could fare better, so we tested an older Intel 275W PSU from a BTX system. Clearly the age of the PSU showed through as the power draw of 28W at idle and 39W under load was significantly worse with the Pico PSU being around 47 per cent more efficient.
Of course, these initial results are through running the base BIOS settings. While many of the more useful voltage settings get locked out, we can at least tinker with a few settings. It's odd the DDR3 memory defaults to 1.65V, we had already manually selected 1.35volts, but we also kicked the memory bus down to 1,066MHz from 1,600MHz. We also turned off as many of the on-board integrated chips as possible, such as the LAN and audio.
Annoyingly, many of the voltages and even the QPI bus speed aren't accessible, as we'd certainly be tempted to undervolt the memory controller Vtt line, the memory VDIMM and main chipset PCH line. Underclocking the CPU from 2.8GHz to 2.0GHz had no effect on idle power consumption, we'd imagine as largely the processor powers down as much as possible no matter what the clock.
Surprisingly, it also had no effect on the loaded power consumption. All of this tinkering managed to drop the Pico PSU idle power consumption down to a mere 13 Watts idle and 23 Watts under a gaming load. Even adding the WD Green 2TB 2.5-inch drive to the system wouldn't see this rise above 15 Watts.
As a gaming rig it is going to leave something to be desired in the speed department, but the fact is, this is a system that can game if you need it to. At 13 Watts idle we almost match our plucked-out-the-air 10W goal and frankly brought desktop power consumption down to laptop levels. We think that's pretty impressive, especially as we haven't had to compromise raw CPU power.